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Triangle overtaking Metro Charlotte in population?

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What's your opinion on the Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary) being able to overtake the Charlotte metropolitan area as the most populous metropolitan area in the state?

From an outsider's view, I would say that, despite Charlotte's completion of I-485 and its growth between Rock Hill, Gastonia and the Concord/Kannapolis area, Raleigh-Durham is better connected, has lots of undeveloped land, has the necessary freeway connections, and overall seems ripe for an explosion of growth, so much so that it could outpace Charlotte as the head metropolitan area in the state. The core of urbanized area is also greater, if we're talking about unbroken development, in Raleigh than Charlotte. From just outside I-40 on the southeast side, westward towards Chapel Hill, there is a built-up area, albeit more sparse in some locations, of thirty two to thirty four miles. On the other hand, Charlotte has a concentrated built-up area of eighteen miles, if we're to use the low end figures, from the Concord Mills exit to I-485 on the west side. If we're to use the slightly broken figures, then I suppose you could include Gastonia and its neighbors (Mt. Holly, Belmont, Ranlo, Lowell) and parts of Concord and Kannapolis, a span of 48 miles, if you consider the area between west Gastonia at exit 13 all the way up to exit 61 in Concord/Kannapolis "built-up". Despite the latter, the greater concentration of freeways in Raleigh-Durham makes it feel more-connected. Metropolitan Charlotte, outside of I-485, feels somewhat "broken" and disattached, save a small area on the northeast side (Harris Blvd, Concord Mills).

So what do you think? Will the Triangle outpace Metro Charlotte?

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You are missing the build up of area along the I-77 corridor in Charlotte. It runs from Rock Hill, SC all the way to Statesville, NC. But even if you cut that back to Mooresville NC, to Ft Mill, SC you are talking about 45 miles of constant development.

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You are missing the build up of area along the I-77 corridor in Charlotte. It runs from Rock Hill, SC all the way to Statesville, NC. But even if you cut that back to Mooresville NC, to Ft Mill, SC you are talking about 45 miles of constant development.

Yes, the I-77 corridor is exploding with growth, but it's kind of coming into its own. I do think that this area will be completely merged with the bulk of the Charlotte built-up area within ten years.

The area between Rock Hill and Charlotte is more like an ex-urban area. It is not rural, but it is lightly suburbanized. Overall, it's suburban but not like, say, Matthews or Pineville. On the north end, up to Lake Norman, this area has seen a lot of development, and it's safe to say that it will be concentrated development soon.

I don't say these things to take away from Charlotte's significance. It's obvious that Charlotte is growing by leaps and bounds, and that it is a major city. Its skyline is much more powerful than the skylines of Raleigh or Durham. What I am arguing, though, is that Raleigh-Durham, for all intensive purposes, is functioning and is structured like a major metropolitan area, and that given its greater amount of undeveloped land and freeway connections between the two core cities, Raleigh and Durham, it's positioned to rival or surpass Charlotte in population.

I honestly do think that Charlotte will eventually have a larger concentrated built-up area, ranging from Rock Hill to Mooresville, a span of about 52 miles. I'm no sure about the "sprawl" reaching up to Statesville.

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Yes, Dallas/Forth Worth, and the twin cities are so unappealing because of their lack of a central urban district. :rolleyes:

We have two, not zero. There's a big difference.

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In 20-25 years they will be neck and neck.

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What role does mass transit play in all of this? Charlotte's light rail system (the south line) is currently under construction, and there is serious talk about extending a commuter rail line down here to York County. I hear that the Triangle is having problems getting this off the ground. So even if the Triangle does surpass metro Charlotte in population, Charlotte's growth will be more compact and dense than the Triangle's I think--not that either metro area is sprawl free, but Charlotte's growth will be more sustainable.

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The Triangle metro most likely will overtake the Charlotte metro area in about 20 years or less, every new U.S. Census report shows the Triangle area making up alot of ground, it's just a matter of time.

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In 20-25 years they will be neck and neck.
I agree with you, according to data from the lastest U.S.Census reports, can't wait for the next one ,so we can see more result's that are based on facts , and not grandstanding

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Won't happen.

2004 CSA Estimates*

------------------------------------------------------

24 Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC 2067810 CSA

38 Raleigh-Durham-Cary, NC 1467434 CSA

Raleigh may be growing faster by a percentage point or two, but Charlotte is still growing at breakneck speed itself.

*I choose CSA because the MSA for Raleigh doesn't include Durham and it is quite likely that Charlotte's MSA will be more in line with the CSA at the next census with the growth in nearby counties and commuting patterns.

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I know that Wake County is projected to pass Mecklenburg County in population within a few years, but that hardly testifies to the growth of the entire metro. York, Lancaster, and Union counties in particular are just getting warmed up (for better or for worse).
That's is the strength of the Triangle it's growing smaller communties like Johnston,Chatham Franklin,Granville counties they are just getting warmed up also, i agree with you that York and Union are superstar counties in the making and will do big things,but if you check the U.S. Census report The Triangle has more counties that are growing faster and more smaller towns and cities growing faster prove me wrong if you can, and in the Triangle it's always for the better. :thumbsup:

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To be fair, Charlotte's CSA covers almost 7000 sq miles and contains plenty of area that is simply unpopulated. CSAs are calculated by commuting patterns and not anything to do with urban development, which is the subject of this thread. Charlotte's CSA includes Lancaster, SC which has all of 65K living in the entire county and Anson which is losing people. CSAs are larger when you have a lot of poor counties that are surrounding an urban area. This is a bigger problem in Charlotte than in the Triangle.

A much more fair comparison would be to look at the urbanized area of the two metros, but unfortunately there are not any recent #'s that reflect today's statistics. My guess however is there really isn't that much difference between Charlotte and the Triangle.

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I know that Wake County is projected to pass Mecklenburg County in population within a few years, but that hardly testifies to the growth of the entire metro. York, Lancaster, and Union counties in particular are just getting warmed up (for better or for worse).
I disagree, it clearly testifies that Wake County which is a part of the faster growing Triangle area is growing faster than Mecklenburg County ,those our the biggest parts of these two metro's ,they play a big factor in setting the tone for the entire area of both Metro's and yes Wake County does have more land than Mecklenburg but it also has the higher growth rate too, but nobody likes to toot that horn,just the horn that Wake has more land mass.(SMILE) :)

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It's possible to have a fast-growing core county, but to have the surrounding counties be relatively stagnant in growth. That is not the case in either metro, but it's possible that it could be--which is why I said the Wake and Mecklenburg growth rates don't tell the entire story.

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It's possible to have a fast-growing core county, but to have the surrounding counties be relatively stagnant in growth. That is not the case in either metro, but it's possible that it could be--which is why I said the Wake and Mecklenburg growth rates don't tell the entire story.
Point made, i agree with you from that standpoint that both are growing fast.

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What role does mass transit play in all of this? Charlotte's light rail system (the south line) is currently under construction, and there is serious talk about extending a commuter rail line down here to York County. I hear that the Triangle is having problems getting this off the ground. So even if the Triangle does surpass metro Charlotte in population, Charlotte's growth will be more compact and dense than the Triangle's I think--not that either metro area is sprawl free, but Charlotte's growth will be more sustainable.

An excellent point and why we're resettling to Charlotte from Raleigh. That said, NC is lucky to have more than rapidly growing, evolving, urbanizing metro than some of our neighboring states with just one... ;)

In the long run, this fact will continue to make NC a far more interesting place to be...

(Can any one imagine the day - OK, way in the future - when a Charlotte MLB team plays a Triangle MLB team in the World Series? Yikes!)

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Charlotte's growth will be more compact and dense than the Triangle's I think--not that either metro area is sprawl free, but Charlotte's growth will be more sustainable.

That is a good point. Charlotte's DT has been growing for quite a few years, whereas Raleigh's has just begun to be redeveloped in the last 2-3. Charlotte metro has plenty of sprawl though, just look at Union County. In the Triangle, the problem areas are rural Wake, East Chatham, and NW Johnston Co. Way too many huge subdivisions. The Triangle from Hillsborough to Clayton is WAY too spread out IMO. Time will tell if Charlotte's transit corridors help really take a dent out of sprawl.

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I personally think the talk of Charlotte's smart growth is often greatly overstated. The subdivisions are still sprawling out of control - subdivisions of thousands of homes are under construction as we speak WITHIN the city limits. Outside the county, the scene is quite like Atlanta and other sprawling cities with very low density sprawl.

That said, Charlotte does have its corridors of 'smart growth' which Raleigh does not. There is something for everyone. Urban living, 'old fashioned' neighborhood, suburbs, older sprawl, exurban sprawl. The great majority of Charlotte is and will always be sprawl - same with Raleigh though Charlotte will and has more pockets of urbanity.

----

Raleigh and Charlotte are not too different in my book.

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thats true, in the grand scheme of cities around the globe, they arent very different, in terms of the built environment. Both are mostly made up of subdivisions and shopping centers with a few urban pockets and both continue to sprawl with a limited amount of urban development to boast about. Hate to dumb it down to that, but that is the reality of it.

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While the comments about sprawl are true of Charlotte, my view on why Charlotte will remain consistently beyond the Triangle in population is that now the inner city is beginning the phase of densification.

Once the pattern, infrastructure, and culture of densification sets in, much larger populations are sustainable. Within the sprawl model, with connectivity primarily by freeway, and with R3 or R4 densities, etc., the population can only go so high without dramatically hindering quality of life. Once the infrastructure, such as rapid rail transit, street network connectivity improvements, sidewalk networks, bike path/trail networks, and sustainable zoning and land use patterns are in place, it is easy to triple or quadruple the populations of entire square miles.

I think Charlotte's LRT and central city investments in neighborhood, street, and zoning improvements puts the city in a position to expontially grow its core. The support the development community has for urban infill development and its capacity to make that happen underscores that growth potential. That, combined with Charlotte's continued ability (sadly) to continue sprawling out, leads me to think that Charlotte's metro population will continue to lead that of the Triangle.

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Everyone has good points. I don't think the Triangle metro will catch up with Charlotte's metro anytime soon. Eventually, assuming the Triangle's growth rate stagnates or increases, the Triangle might. However, we may be looking at another Atlanta type sprawl situation with 16 lane interstates, traffic jams for hours on interstate highways and local roads -- no road infrastructure to handle the suburban sprawl 45 minutes from downtown Raleigh (toll roads may help, but no rail system in place. the possibility of it looks doubtful). It would come down to quality of living in this example and I think Charlotte would have the edge there.

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Like mention, I think what makes Charlotte almost unstoppable is the I-77 corridor as long as rail does come to that area. Put rail from Morresville to DT and beyond that from DT,.....that is almost magical. (and I am a Raleigh guy). I do think if the TTA gets off the ground and the several towns plan smart along the Backbone phase 1 plan, the Triangle can follow closely.

For the Triangle, they need to stop the sprawl and fill in smart, but i just don't see that happening.

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Mooresville has officially backed out of the transit plan. Looks like the rail system will be primarly be only in Mecklenburg with the exception of 1-2 stations.

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Mooresville has officially backed out of the transit plan. Looks like the rail system will be primarly be only in Mecklenburg with the exception of 1-2 stations.

I guess they've become the new Pineville

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Mooresville has officially backed out of the transit plan. Looks like the rail system will be primarly be only in Mecklenburg with the exception of 1-2 stations.

That is terrible

More congestion for US 21!

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